Ebook Subscription Services for the Consumer

Simon & Schuster has just announced that some of its titles are now available on Oyster and Scribd, two of the leading ebook subscription services.  HarperCollins is also experimenting with this business model. 

Simon and Schuster is making its entire backlist of thousands of titles, available in ebook format via the subscription model.  These include books by many famous authors, past and present – for example, Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King. Oyster first launched its service in late 2012.  Scribd, which had been running a successful document sharing service for some time, expanded into ebook subscriptions in October of last year.

Esubscription models take two main forms: the first involves allowing the customer to download a set number of books per month for a set price; the second – the one employed by Oyster and Scribd –  charges a ‘rent’ for browsing through an unlimited number of titles.  Entitle operates the former model. 

Doug Stambaugh, Vice President of Global EBook Strategy at Simon and Schuster, has been quoted as saying that publishers don’t yet have a ‘good handle’ on what consumer business model preferences are, which is why he is happy to experiment.